Loud interruptions are encouraged and even instrumental to the functioning of the University of Mississippi’s only improvisation club, cleverly dubbed Umprov.
“Grandpa’s poop house!”
“A giant swan boat!”
Audience members at one of Umprov’s bi-weekly club meetings on a Monday night shouted out suggestions for a scene when the group’s vice president, junior acting for stage and screen major Maxwell Glasser, prompted them. He was leading an improv game for dozens of UM students who made their way to Isom Hall for an evening of laughter and unrestrained expression.
Glasser has been with Umprov since its debut in 2021 when he was a freshman. He was christened “first mate” by the club’s co-founders, current Umprov president and senior multidisciplinary studies major Don Waller and UM alum Leah Blevins.
When Umprov was formed, the group leaders could barely crack a double-digit attendance. On Monday, Jan. 29, there were more than 50 people present.
“At first, we were averaging about 10 to 12 people coming if we were lucky, because a lot of us have rehearsals,” Glasser said. “Fast forward to now, we’re averaging 40 to 50 people.”
An typical evening at Umprov consists of various games, including audience favorite “Blind Freeze.” In this game, two participants act out a scene, stop when someone in the audience yells for them to and then rotate one player out so that a new player takes the place of one of the participants to pick up a new scene. There is also the charades-inspired “Late to Work.” In this game, one player must guess why they were “late to work” by having two other players act out who the audience says player one is, what they drive and who they were with. When player one guesses all three, they win.
After the ceremony on Monday, Jan. 29, Glasser and a few other organization members revealed that Umprov received its first sponsorship. Social media outlet BeReal will give the club $7 for every new member who joins the organization on the app’s new feature, RealGroups.
“BeReal reached out to us a couple of weeks ago, and basically they’re collaborating with a bunch of different organizations around the United States on campuses to create BeReal group chats,” Glasser said. “Their deal with organizations like Umprov is (that) we currently have a GroupMe with over 97 members, and they want us to slowly move all of our communication onto their new group chat format. For every new person that we get to sign up and then join our group, they’ll give us $7 towards our organization.”
One of Umprov’s members, sophomore acting major Jacob Matthews, says that he has enjoyed his time with the organization.
“There’s so much that happens (in a meeting) where you can genuinely let out a good belly laugh. I think being able to laugh and connect with the people around you is really fun,” Matthews said.
That theme of laughter carries over into Glasser’s philosophy of the group, too.
“I think that with a big campus, especially when it’s hard to find your group of people to hang out with, organizations like Umprov, where you can just come and hang out and laugh, feel like home on campus,” Glasser said. “I know it was a big help for me. Especially during finals week, we’ll have a really big turnout, shockingly, because people will take a break from their studies and come laugh real quick. We provide that little outlet, that brain break you need just to be stupid and laugh and be silly.”
Sophomore exercise science major Laura Counts was a first-time attendee to Umprov on Monday, Jan. 29., and her experience echoed Matthews’ and Glasser’s hopes for the organization.
“I thought it was really cool, it was really funny. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying it; I think I had a really good time,” Counts said. “It made me laugh a lot.”
Counts shared that she would definitely return for another meeting.
Matthews gave his on-the-street style pitch for anyone who has never been to an Umprov meeting.
“Do you just want to sit down and laugh? Do you wanna have a good time? Come to Umprov,” Matthews said. “We have a club on campus that meets kind of late at night … but we’re all up late. Just come have a good time — you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll do everything.”
Umprov teeters between a 9:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. starting time and consistently meets every Monday and Thursday. Students interested in attending a meeting should keep up with the club’s Instagram to see which time the meeting starts on that particular evening. More information is on their Instagram (@um.prov).